Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Neighborhood Discussion...

Well, we finished our neighborhood backyard study-group last night. Just to catch you up, Barie and I (along with our neighbors, Mike & Dawn) invited any neighbors who wanted to come to join us in a four-week read of Tim Keller's book The Reason for God, which I reviewed here. World Magazine, a Christian weekly news-magazine, named Keller's book their 2008 book of the year. Their interview with Keller can be read on their website.

We had 6 couples come to our first backyard meeting, which we told everyone would be 4 weeks long. We passed out Keller's book during the first meeting and shared about our spiritual background (about those who had influenced our view of God and the church). A couple of insights from our fascinating time with our neighbors over the last four weeks...

1) People want to talk about spiritual things if they are given a safe place to dialogue about their doubts and struggles. I really enjoyed listening to our neighbors process their worldview, and I also loved hearing them talk about how much they appreciated having a safe place to talk about issues of faith.

2) Reading Keller's book in 3 weeks is too fast. We should have spread it out over a few more weeks - 6 weeks would have been perfect.

3) While some people have genuine intellectual struggles with Christianity and the Bible (which Keller handles very well), others have emotional struggles from past hurt/pain that is sometimes a larger hurdle for them to jump. Several times during our discussion, family members were mentioned by name who had turned my neighbors away from faith because of their behavior, attitude.

4) The gospel is truly amazing news. Sharing last night with our neighbors about the uniqueness of the Christian gospel was one of the highlights of the last month for me. I am passionate (like Keller) for people to know the difference between religion and the gospel. In a world saturated with religion, the gospel of grace pierces to the heart of our greatest need - transformation.

5) Having conversations with seekers about the gospel is invigorating and addictive.

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